Suppose that a dog is required by the terms of his doghouse arrest to maintain shaggy fur.

May I write:

The condition that Fido have shaggy fur is restrictive.

I believe that this is a form of the present perfect subjunctive in English. Is it? It sounds better to my ear than

The condition that Fido has shaggy fur is restrictive.

I believe that the second is wrong, though not too offensive to the ear and probably more common.

Can someone clarify the grammatical rules/context here?

EDIT: This was not the present perfect subjunctive, as has been pointed out. Still, this situation is somewhat strange because the once correct subjunctive is perceived as archaic by some.

  • 1
    I would write it: The condition that Fido must have shaggy hair is restritive. The avoids the ackwardness. Or even: The condition "Fido must have shaggy hair" is restrictive. – Lambie Feb 20 '16 at 19:19
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    I'd say that your first example is a straightforward subjunctive where "have" is the plain (or base/infinitival) form of the verb, not the perfect auxiliary. It's very formal, to the point of being archaic, and I think your second example is better and sounds more natural. – BillJ Feb 20 '16 at 19:20
  • The context is a formal mathematics paper. I am not discussing dogs and shaggy fur, but a formal object X with property P. Maybe I'm just an archaic person, but the first seems better than the second. To be clear, both of you think that the first sentence is correct, you just think it sounds outdated? – Lepidopterist Feb 20 '16 at 19:26
  • Yes, it's grammatical, but I judged that particular use of the subjunctive to be archaic purely in the context of your actual example. Others may disagree, of course. Lambie's alternatives sound good to me. – BillJ Feb 20 '16 at 19:36
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    'Have' forms a perfect only if it is followed by a past participle. There is no perfect, of any kind, here. It is indeed usually analysed as subjunctive, and is rather formal. – Colin Fine Feb 20 '16 at 20:24

An present perfect subjunctive is rare. En.wikipedia in English subjunctive has an example. Wikipedia: Occasionally, a present perfect subjunctive is seen, as in

  • It is important that he have completed two years of Spanish before graduation.[citation needed]


  • 1
    But hasn't it been established in the comments that neither of those examples uses the present perfect subjunctive? Not sure how you are answering my question about the grammatical context of what I am trying to convey. – Lepidopterist Feb 21 '16 at 21:43
  • I'm used to subjunctives in AmE, and that present perfect subjunctive just sounds weird. I don't think Americans use present perfect subjunctives often. – Peter Shor Mar 21 '16 at 23:43
  • I can find it "in the wild." N.Y.Times, 1967: The requirements are that the member be at least 25 years old, that he have been a citizen for seven years, and that he inhabit the state in which he was elected. And 1823: Surely it is requisite that he have been universally read and acknowledged. But it seems incredibly rare. I would use the present perfect indicative in both places myself, unless I used substantially different wording. – Peter Shor Mar 21 '16 at 23:51

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